If you were born around mid-20th century you probably remember a simpler time, when you knew who the USA’s enemies were; when the two political parties had significant ideological differences but understood the absolute need to work together for the good of the entire country; that if you worked hard you could get ahead; when natural disasters struck the US government was there providing competent relief to the needy; and citizens were proud of the strength and resourcefulness of the United States of America.
Then the Reagan administration came in. It was hell-bent on reducing the central government by privatizing its functions,reducing funds for education, eliminating social safety networks, adding religion to politics, providing tax breaks for the rich, and re-categorizing ketchup as a vegetable in school lunches. The political power of the radical-right military-industrial complex was increased with contracts for US$300 toilets in military aircraft and US$ 500 hammers for military construction projects. The beginning of right-wing extremism as a large force in American politics had begun.
During the Clinton administration (1993-2000), the more left-leaning liberals, starved for even one political achievement after 12 years under republican rule, attempted to implement universal healthcare in America. While truly a noble effort, this totally overstepping action hit the ground with a loud thud. The see-saw of American politics swung back into the radical right’s favor. Republicans retook congress in the 1994 elections. But the Clinton administration became more centrist to work compromises with that newly GOP congress. Together they passed comprehensive welfare reform and national budgets that generated surpluses for four consecutive years in a row. The economy boomed, demonstrating that the political centrist road was working for the country and its people.
Unfortunately, bipartisanship drove into a brick wall during the GW Bush administration with the reintroduction of religion in government, more tax breaks for the rich, and more favoring of the military-industrial-corporate complex, two expensive (but unfunded) wars, an unfunded prescription drug program for seniors that guaranteed even more monster profits for corporate big pharma, deregulation of financial and mortgage markets which caused the housing bubble to explode, Wall Street and the economy to implode, and exploding national budget deficits to be left to the next president to solve. The partisan extreme right believed that “deficits don’t matter”, as then vice-president “Tricky Dick” Cheney is famous for saying.
The extreme political partisanship which began under Reagan really didn’t come into its own until republicans took control of both house of congress for 6 years beginning in 2002 during the GW Bush administration. From then on congressional democrats were more and more marginalized until, in 2006, senate republicans threatened to deploy what they called the “nuclear option“, i.e., they would their majority in the senate to change senate rules so that filibusters could be shut down with a simple 50% plus one majority, as opposed to the 60% requirement the rules demanded. The only thing that stopped this was the “gang of 14” moderate senator from both parties who got together to forge a bi-partisan solution. Bi-partisanship had dodged yet one more bullet, but the power-addiction of the GOP was no beyond the point of no return.
While the democrats won back the senate in 2006, the GOP still controlled the house of representatives. However, when the democrats also took both the white house and the house of representatives in 2008, the withdrawal symptoms caused by the GOP’s power addiction really kicked in. The GOP in both houses of congress started voting as a single block of votes on almost every issue. Senate republicans used the filibuster rule to stop almost all of the democrat’s proposals. Uncompromising partisanship had finally become the standard for these republicans.
And when the GOP won back the house in 2010, it just made them even more partisan. The newly-GOP-controlled house pushed through legislation they knew would die in the senate or be vetoed by president Obama. Their partisan extremism had been further enhanced by the 61 new Tea-Bagger congresspeople whose only stated agenda was to impose their way or the highway. The debt-limit increase debacle of last July and August is how business is now conducted on Capitol Hill. This is hurting the weak economy and making the US government look like it belongs in a lunatic asylum.
As a result, a group of moderate centrists democrats, republicans, and independents fed up with the partisan bullshit known as “No Labels” has been meeting and growing, much like the extremist Tea Party movement did several years ago. In fact, they recently participated in a conference call with 100,000 attendees!!
With the Tea-baggers controlling the GOP and the leftist liberals mad at Obama (a centrist democrat, by the way), no is the perfect time for “No Labels” to “mix it up” by offering a third political choice at the polls.
They just need a better, catchier name….
Like, maybe…We the PEOPLE!!!‘s party! 🙂